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#1732840 - 08/14/11 02:28 PM Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3347
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
I put this in the piano forum section and someone suggested I put it here as well as many who frequent this area don't look in the piano forum section.

Here are some Chopin Mazurkas performed by Shaun Tirrell on a Steingraeber 212 prepared and customized by PianoCraft.

_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1732931 - 08/14/11 05:45 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
This is an excellent performance, although to my taste the first and third mazurkas are too 'metric.' He does nice and rubato-ish things with the rhythm, but by and large, it's way too strict-metric for my taste, and the opening of the first one is particularly so. Also, in the 1st and 3rd, rubatos are often done in a way that I wonder if it really 'works.'

We've had some discussions lately about rubato, including the debate about whether what is "stolen" needs to be "given back" -- like, whether we need to soon make up for any lingering by an equal speeding up. Most of us, me included, said that you don't. But this is an example of where I think the performance would benefit from more such balancing. The issue isn't what happens after "lingering," but with the rarer kind of thing -- what happens after pushing the rhythm. There are a lot of places where he pushes the rhythm for a moment without any let-up thereafter. Not that we always need to 'balance' out this opposite kind of thing either, but I'd say we usually do, and with these performances, especially in the first mazurka, I think it's an issue, especially at phrase endings, where I think it doesn't work at all. It probably wouldn't have stuck out that much to me if not for the opening, which is way too metric and tossed-off, really un-mazurka-like, and doesn't set the stage well. Maybe he was just nervous and a little distracted at the beginning, which certainly is possible. I ought to add that I felt the second mazurka was superb, and that I'm criticizing this at a high level that would only be done with such a superior pianist.


Edited by Mark_C (08/14/11 11:31 PM)
Edit Reason: per ERavelli's post
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1732947 - 08/14/11 06:01 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
P.S. A couple of things:

-- I see that on the other thread, people are speaking to Shaun as though he's a member here. Is he?

-- I see also that the piano itself is part of the point. Can't tell why exactly.

I hope I wasn't being unduly unkind in the above post, and/or didn't get the point. If so, I think it might help to give us more info in such OP's.
Also I'm prepared to delete a lot of that post....
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1732982 - 08/14/11 06:47 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3347
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...

Hi Mark,

Shaun is my business partner and many here know him, either from visits to PianoCraft or from hearing him in concert. Actually, there are a few here who were classmates of Shaun's and mine at Peabody.
However, he is a high level professional pianist, and can take the heat of criticism, so since I believe your reaction was genuine, I see no need to change it, unless you listen again and find yourself getting more into Shaun's playing, in which case, you should make another post rather than change the first post. Anyway, I see nothing wrong with you expressing a strong opinion here.

Mazurkas are very personal things, and I agree with you that the A minor is excellent ( I actually think it is pretty stunning)

I don't hear his playing as "too metric" in the least. I feel that Shaun is one of the very few who really gets and communicates the feel of a Mazurka rhythm without over
exagerration and distortion, and in general I find his sense of rhythm, rubato and especially the way in which he ends phrases to be quite compelling.
What you call in the first Mazurka tossed off in a bad way, I think is tossed off in a wonderful way, full of playfulness and humor.
Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thanks!
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1733006 - 08/14/11 07:07 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
....he is a high level professional pianist, and can take the heat of criticism, so since I believe your reaction was genuine, I see no need to change it, unless you listen again and find yourself getting more into Shaun's playing...Anyway, I see nothing wrong with you expressing a strong opinion here....

Thanks very much for that.
And actually I did get into his playing in the first place! thumb

As I said, I was criticizing it at a high (and picky) level. And BTW the "tossed off" comment was only about the very opening of the 1st one. I would hold to that -- and I wouldn't be surprised if upon Shaun's re-hearing of it, he might agree with it himself. I'm guessing that indeed it's that it just took him a little while to get himself into the piece.


Edited by Mark_C (08/14/11 11:05 PM)
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1733071 - 08/14/11 08:30 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
Mark C --

Since I follow your posts more closely than most and have acquired high respect for the acuity and integrity of your opinions, your reaction to Shaun's performance made me go back and listen twice more to see what I missed. I confess that if anyone missed the boat on this one, I think it was you. OK, maybe the first 9 seconds of his performance of the 1st mazurka was more "metric" than the rest of it. But "tossed off" and "mindless"? Come on now.

I appreciate the fact that taken as a whole, your posts on this subject are quite positive and clearly indicate that you're picking nits "at a high level" with a performance you otherwise seem to like, But if that's so, I think you could have been more discerning in your choice of words. Your customary care with words seems to have gone walkabout here.

We're all entitled to our opinions. Now you've heard mine. I look forward to more of yours in the future.
_________________________
Phil Bjorlo

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#1733072 - 08/14/11 08:35 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Strangely, I didn't think it was all that strictly metric at all.. I would have actually liked stricter rhythm but that's probably just my inexperience speaking and it would seem as though a Mazurka needs its own character and the pianist in the video here seems to have achieved it pretty well! The last Mazurka is the one I'm most familiar with.. there are many other pianists whose versions I prefer but this one's not bad at all! wink
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Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1733146 - 08/14/11 10:19 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Emanuel Ravelli]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Emanuel Ravelli
....I appreciate the fact that taken as a whole, your posts on this subject are quite positive and clearly indicate that you're picking nits "at a high level" with a performance you otherwise seem to like, But if that's so, I think you could have been more discerning in your choice of words. Your customary care with words seems to have gone walkabout here.....

Perhaps -- and I did go back and change the earlier posts a bit, after seeing your post. In fact I had felt some self-consciousness about what I was saying, but here's why I let myself go ahead and say it.

Chopin is the composer most dear to my heart. I have very strong feelings about ways of playing his music, as I think most of us do about the music that we feel closest to and which we most love. Of course this can cut both ways: we may truly have valid views, but at the same time our passion and subjectivity can get the better of us. I know that. But I trust my sense of certain things about playing Chopin (rightly or wrongly) that when I feel I'm seeing them clearly, it has at least a fair validity.

The way that Keith presented this video on this thread seemed to indicate that on the other thread, the performance was felt to be highly remarkable, and perhaps exemplary. I felt it was important to point out how perhaps it isn't quite -- including perhaps for the performer himself, who may gain something valuable. You're right that some of what I said could have been said better -- and I did go back and change it some. BTW I'm not sure why you felt "tossed off" was such a bad term. I think it's a pretty gentle way of conveying what I was saying.

Thanks for being so gracious in your comments despite your feeling so strongly against my post -- really!


Edited by Mark_C (08/14/11 11:06 PM)
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1733166 - 08/14/11 10:33 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2644
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

The way that Keith presented this video on this thread seemed to indicate that on the other thread, the performance was felt to be highly remarkable, and perhaps exemplary.

Keith was highlighting the piano (prepared and customized by Pianocraft) more than the performance, as you can see from the Piano Forum thread on the same.
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1733191 - 08/14/11 10:42 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: jazzyprof]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Keith was highlighting the piano (prepared and customized by Pianocraft) more than the performance, as you can see from the Piano Forum thread on the same.

The way it was presented in this OP -- i.e. the idea that it was felt to be good to post it here as well as having been posted there -- made it seem otherwise.

P.S. to ERavelli: I did revise those earlier posts a bit. I do appreciate your post -- it helped.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1733651 - 08/15/11 04:58 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
SlatterFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 784
Loc: Brighton, UK
The piano sounds great. However, I have no idea what an unprepared and uncustomized Steingraeber 212 sounds like. Please can you tell us a bit about how you changed its sound? (This is where a before-and-after comparison with the same pianist and the same pieces in the same room would be fascinating.)
_________________________
Julian

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#1733666 - 08/15/11 05:15 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3347
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Hi Slatterfan,

I get into a bit in my last 2 posts in this thread:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1733649/2.html
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1733756 - 08/15/11 07:39 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
SlatterFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 784
Loc: Brighton, UK
Thanks for the info about the piano, Keith!

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
The way that Keith presented this video on this thread seemed to indicate that on the other thread, the performance was felt to be highly remarkable, and perhaps exemplary.

Yes -- the praise in the other thread was very high indeed.

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I felt it was important to point out how perhaps it isn't quite -- including perhaps for the performer himself, who may gain something valuable.

I was hesitating to comment about the playing, but that factor you mention (in addition to not wanting to give any lurkers the misleading impression that you are a lone voice among a sea of people loving that way of playing Chopin) clinches it.

The opening to Op.7 No.1 was amazingly fast, much faster than I ever thought I would hear it played in a recital by a pro, and it sounded even faster due to the absence of any swagger or lilt, without the slightly prolonged first beat to the piece that I just assumed all mazurka fans do instinctively, and due to accelerating through the first trill instead of lingering a bit, thus making a breathless transition from the bold opening to the p scherz. part with the skipping crushed notes. Rising figures in the RH (e.g. 7th measure) either flew by or came to a near standstill. The gentle, serene melody in the second section that Chopin marked p, Tirrell began with loud volume and also without gentleness in style. Then the mysterious, almost other-worldly third section with the drone in the bass, marked pp sotto voce, was played instead fairly loudly and without mystery. It is to the pianist's credit that some of the charm of the piece still communicated, even though so many things were bugging me!

Without the exaggerated surges in Op.17 No.4, I would have liked it. But the surges disrupted the mood for me, and I also think they hurt the shape of the piece. Surely the point is that the consoling section has fairly subdued rises and falls of emotion, except for the ff climax that bursts out just before the tragic theme returns. But Tirrell played the earlier surges so strongly that when he had to produce something bigger at the final climax, he didn't really have anywhere left to go and the tone sounded very forced, along with a distracting wrong note that I'm sure he wouldn't have played at a lower dynamic. Without this problem, I think it could have been a haunting interpretation.

Op.33 No.3 has regular accents on the 3rd beat in the loud sections, and I like to hear those accents as I feel they add a lot to the character (contrasting "the tavern and the salon" as Princess Czartoryska said Chopin taught it to her). But even without much observance of those accents I quite enjoyed this piece, and the quirks (abundant in all three pieces) seemed more fitting here.

In a nutshell, while I enjoyed nice things in all three interpretations, unfortunately I was distracted quite strongly by not-so-nice things in two of the three pieces, which limited how much I could be transported by the music. (In my opinion, and all that jazz.)
_________________________
Julian

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#1733777 - 08/15/11 08:06 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: SlatterFan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Thanks for commenting, Julian. I was hoping somebody besides me would comment on the playing, even if it wouldn't be echoing what I said.

About the opening of the first mazurka, I would add (and I'm guessing you'll agree!) that it's not necessarily on the "1st beat" that we expect some prolongation; it could be the 2nd -- at least either/or. The fact that it's neither was what made me feel like the opening isn't a mazurka at all, and doesn't set the stage well for what follows. In essence, I agree with all the specifics that you gave, and while to someone who isn't so immersed in Chopin and mazurkas these may seem like picky points, they fairly drove me up the wall, when the impression given by the OP was that this had been felt to be exemplary mazurka playing.

On the positive side, I would echo this: "It is to the pianist's credit that some of the charm of the piece still communicated, even though so many things were bugging me!" I'd actually say that he communicated a lot of the charm, but that in the context of so much that was good, the problems were extremely "bugging."
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1733795 - 08/15/11 08:27 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
SlatterFan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 784
Loc: Brighton, UK
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
About the opening of the first mazurka, I would add (and I'm guessing you'll agree!) that it's not necessarily on the "1st beat" that we expect some prolongation; it could be the 2nd -- at least either/or.

Yes! That wouldn't have occurred to me if you hadn't mentioned it, but flowing straight into the 2nd beat and hanging a little on the 2nd beat would work just as well. I can imagine that I probably wouldn't even notice which was done in performance unless I focused specially on it, because the overall feel would be the same.
_________________________
Julian

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#1733797 - 08/15/11 08:31 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: SlatterFan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
I hope that people (maybe including especially ERavelli) smile might better understand my peevement (peevation?), in light of your posts. I was aware that my posts might have seemed needlessly negative, did my best to avoid that, and then tried harder with the 'edits' after Emanuel's post. But the thing is, for those of us who appreciate the fine points of Chopin and of mazurkas in particular, it can be awfully annoying to see such issues not recognized -- to see people saying "how fantastic!" when we know it isn't. And BTW I can imagine that this is how many professional pianists feel when they hear just about anything by "advanced amateurs" like myself, and even by the top prize winners in amateur competitions.

I hope the others might return with their possible new comments.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1733917 - 08/15/11 11:11 PM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
P.S. to ERavelli: I did revise those earlier posts a bit. I do appreciate your post -- it helped.


The new version strikes a much better tone; thanks for thinking about it.
_________________________
Phil Bjorlo

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#1733994 - 08/16/11 01:04 AM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Mark_C]
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3347
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Mark,
I really enjoy many of your posts, and I think you are a good writer and generally a pretty positive and supportive guy, but I continue to be confused by your posts in this thread. So much so, that I have listened to Shaun's performances repeatedly and several others of the same music in genuinely trying to understand your reactions. I hope you appreciate that. It is out of respect for you that I did this.
I must admit I take a bit of issue with your self- congratulatory comments such as
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
"to someone who isn't so immersed in Chopin and mazurkas these may seem like picky points"
and
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
"for those of us who appreciate the fine points of Chopin and of mazurkas in particular"
I think this is at a minimum rather insulting and patronizing to many of us who enjoy these performances. And I don't want to get into a contest with you to show who knows more about Chopin Mazurkas, although I feel like I would at least hold my own there.
I also don’t get your reaction to how I presented the video. Read my OP again. Someone suggested I put it in this section so I did. Nothing more than that.
I also hope you notice that I am not trying to defend Shaun’s performances, as I think they speak for themselves.
I find it fascinating ( sincerely ) that many of your criticisms are exactly what I like about his performance. You say he is playing in a metric fashion ( in the first Mazurka) which doesn’t well set up what is to come, and I feel that he plays it in a refreshingly direct manner, that perfectly sets up the later moments where he creates moments that are in direct contrast either dynamically or with color or time or some combination. I also find it interesting, and perhaps this sheds a bit of light here for me, that I have as strong if not a stronger visceral reaction to so many Mazurka performances that I find to be rhythmically distorted and self- indulgent which I am sure would be much more to your liking than these.
I also never intended to get into it this deeply. You gave your opinion, which I have no problem with, but then you seemed to feel the need to repeat it in several follow up posts, and in a manner that I found to be surprisingly aggressive in proclaiming yourself as a Chopin Mazurka expert and implying that others that disagree with you simply don’t know any better.
I also want you to know that I tried to PM you, as I find this quite distasteful, but it said you are not receiving PMs.
I don’t mean any offense with this post, and I hope I haven’t stepped over any boundries. I just felt like I had to get this off my chest. I still really enjoy your posting style and contributions here and as I have stated before, I feel you are a valuable contributor.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1733999 - 08/16/11 01:14 AM Re: Shaun Tirrell Chopin Mazurkas Steingraeber by PianoCraft [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Thanks for your reply -- really. But before you dismiss my views to the extent that you seem to, let me suggest these two things:

-- Look at Slatter's posts.

-- Let Shaun see our posts, and see what he thinks. I think that upon reflection, he may agree with much of it, and in fact find it useful. And perhaps let him reply himself.

Obviously I can't be objective about whether I came on too strongly, or how valid my views are. You've given your view, and I suppose it's as valid as anyone else's might be -- and I certainly don't think you overstepped any bounds. But I do hold to what I offered, and I feel I said it respectfully and reasonably.
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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